Help Tabi Fung Raise £3,000 for a new wheelchair 👩🦽
This week's blog post is from long term FreshWipes Body Wipe user (and brand advocate); Tabi Fung, who discusses the terrible discrimination and inequality disabled people face on a daily basis and how this has impacted her:
When I became disabled in my early 30’s life changed for me overnight. I suddenly found myself amongst this foreign world of access and inequality.
Whilst I was still very poorly in hospital, I was notified that I was going to be made redundant from a job that I thoroughly enjoyed and was settled in. This came as a massive blow, and looking back, if I had the strength I really should have fought it, however I had to concentrate on me and adjusting to this new world on wheels.
After a time of intensive rehab and physio I began to rebuild my life one block at a time. I thought I was getting a good grasp on life as a wheelchair user, however when it came to looking for a job, I realised this weird new world stretched far beyond getting access to restaurants and being able to manoeuvre myself around a store.
At a guess I must have applied for around 800 jobs. I figured that with my law degree, and years of work experience I would be suitable for a number of roles. It would seem I was wrong. My wheelchair really got in the way of things big time! I conducted an experiment. I would apply for some jobs and state that I was a wheelchair user, and on others I would not mention it. I got invited for more interviews for the jobs I applied for where I didn’t mention I was a wheelchair user, however on many occasions when I called to confirm the interview date and time, I would casually ask if they had wheelchair access which lead to a number of interviews being cancelled. After many more applications I finally found a job and very quickly learned about Access to Work, a government scheme that helps people with disabilities find work, or remain in work. This was fantastic, I would be able to get the items I need in order to continue to work and build a career, and not just become sedentary.
Access to work is great! Ok, that was my initial thought. My first job as a wheelchair user went smoothly and I found that I was ready to stretch my wings (or wheels). I moved roles and that went well. Several years later I found I had a promotion and could move into a more demanding role. This is where the issue came in. I had to apply for my new job and go through the whole interview and recruitment process. When I was offered the job I needed to hand in my resignation and await a start date for my new role. My new role was a completely different job, with a different team, with different demands in a completely different building! The jobs were about as similar as ice cream on a beach and hot chocolate in front of an open fire. Because I wasn’t starting a new job with a new employer, I work for the NHS and was moving with NHS roles, I was not eligible for a full Access to Work grant which would enable me to move independently around the site I worked on, and I would be able to get a new, lighter weight wheelchair. Unfortunately my back is deteriorating and I am struggling to get my current chair in and out of my car. The good news was I could apply for some funding BUT for the effort I was putting in to being able to remain in work, travel around the hospital site independently and remain independent I needed to find around 30% of the total cost of the equipment. This doesn’t sound much until your realise the total cost of the equipment you require is over £10,000 and I need to find £3,000. That’s £3,000 just to be able to stay in work, approximately 15% of my annual salary. That is how much I have to find at the moment in order for me to remain working and not sitting at home claiming benefits.
Having not been the victim of an accident, I am not in receipt of a big insurance pay out, I used my savings when I first became a wheelchair user just so that I could become mobile again. The equipment I require, whilst suitable for me now, may not be suitable in the future and if my health declines further I may need to find more money again if I need further specialist equipment.
Had I resigned from my job and then been accepted for a new job outside the NHS, going through the same process, I would have been eligible for a full Access to Work grant and would not have to contribute to the cost.
I am a fiercely independent woman and hate asking for help for anything. Having to crowd fund is excruciating for me but it really is my only chance to enable me to get the money so I can remain working.
The sad thing is that I am not an isolated case. There are hundreds of other people with disabilities in similar situations to me, wanting desperately to work but not being able to afford to work due to the expense it entails. I'm not sure what the solution is, I really wish I had answers so myself and others could benefit...
If you would like to donate (even if it's just £1 - it all helps) to Tabi's GoFundMe page, please click here